If burns happen, appropriate first aid care must be timely applied as follows:
Wash your hands and rinse the wounds with clean water. For dirty wounds, wash around the wound with soap and water.
If applicable, compress the wounds with room-temperature water as soon as possible. Continue wound compression at least 15 minutes, but not longer than 30 minutes. Do not use cold water or ice to compress the wounds since the cold compression can deepen the depth of the tissue damages.
Cover the wound by applying a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze in place with tape and seek immediate medical attention. Do not apply toothpaste or other lotions or ointments to the wounds since it might increase chances of skin infection.
Before treatment, the doctor starts conducting wound assessment to determine the severity, location and size of burns. Treatments usually involve wound dressings, medication and surgery, if needed. The goals of treatment are to control pain, remove necrotic tissue, prevent complications e.g. infection, reduce scarring and restore function.
At first, wounds need to be properly cleaned. If necrotic or dead tissue is found, it must be removed. Antibiotic creams or ointments might be applied to the affected areas. Wound can be closed by advanced wound closure devices. If the wounds are large or occurring in the major part of the body e.g. face, hands and perineum, patients might need to be hospitalized.
Daily wound dressing is conducted with continuous wound assessment. If necrosis develops, dead tissue needs to be regularly removed everyday or every 1-4 days, depending upon individual conditions. Antibiotic and pain killer medicines might be prescribed if necessary. If the skin damages are not deep, the wounds are usually self-limiting with complete cure in 1-3 weeks. However, for more severe wounds with higher degree burns, skin grafting might be required. A skin graft is a surgical procedure in which sections of patient’s own healthy skin are used to replace the scar tissue caused by deep burns. Donor site wounds take on average 2-3 weeks to automatically heal. Skin obtained from other people is disallowed since a skin transplant between two people can cause a rejection process where the immune system of the recipient or host attacks the foreign donor tissue.
Due to the advancements in medical technology, wound care for burns has been drastically improved. Advanced wound closure devices e.g. designed sutures, staples and mechanical apparatus help aiding in closing wounds by manipulating edges of the wound tissue closer together with minimized chances of scarring. Proper wound care given by highly expert specialists and multidisciplinary team substantially help to alleviate physical pain and emotional distress caused by burns. If burns inevitably occur, immediate medical assistance must be sought in order to receive timely and appropriate treatments.
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